Three separate protests took place in the streets of Phnom Penh this morning. Two of them are nearly part of a ritual: Boeung Kak lake residents protesting at City Hall about finally, after several years, having a clear delimitation of the 12,44 Ha promised by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and the relocated railway community protesting at the Asian Development Bank for its implication in the poor results of that relocation.
The third demonstration, although on the same topic of a land issue, was held by a new, very determined group: representatives of more than 250 families from Choan Ksan district in Preah Vihear province. They are temporarily hosted by the monks from Kampuchea Krom at Wat Samaky Raingsey and were prevented to demonstrate once already last week. This time they managed to reach the Chinese, Russian and Australian embassies, as well as the National Assembly to deliver a petition but, after trying to use a tuk-tuk to ram through a police barricade set up on Sihanouk boulevard, were prevented from reaching Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.
They would be violently dispersed some 30 minutes after I left.
‘Cambodia is not a recycle bin’ was one of the slogans carried by the 500+ citizens marching in the streets of Phnom Penh today to protest the refugee deal Australia signed with Cambodia. An undetermined number of volunteer candidate refugees, momentarily parked on Nauru island by the Australian authorities, would be transferred to an as of yet undisclosed place in the vicinity of Phnom Penh (not inside to capital itself because ‘there are too much traffic jams’) in exchange for $US 35 million in Australian aid over the next few years.
The protest went from the U.S. Embassy, to the Council of Ministers where a rather clumsy attempt by security guards to block the march failed miserably after a short scuffle, on to the United Nations Human Rights Office and then to the National Assembly. The Australian Embassy was reached after a lunch under the trees.
For the protesters the refugee deal between Cambodia and Australia in itself is a good reason enough to protest, but it is also the occasion of pointing out everything which does not work properly in the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’.
The Bokator championship is still ongoing. See also yesterday’s post.
A slideshow I did a few years back on brodal serei can be seen HERE on Youtube.
Surfing on a wave of nationalist pride, the ancient martial art of ‘bokator’, the likely ancestor of ‘brodal serei’ and ‘muay thai’ boxing, was given a significant boost for its revival a few years back through the impulse of grand master San Kim Sen. Today 29 bokator clubs, spread around the Kingdom, sent 124 members, both male and female, to take part in the National Bokator Championship.
King Norodom Sihanouk passed away two years ago…
‘Royal Silence’, an ebook with photographs of his return from exile in 1991 and the ceremonies held in Phnom Penh upon his death is available for your iPad or your Mac running iBooks at THIS LINK…
The Borei Keila community which was cheated into a flawed on-site development by Suy Sophan, owner of development firm Phan Imex, and now live in disgracefull conditions following their eviction in January 2012, marched to City Hall to burn an effigy of the lady and request the authorities finally decide upon their fate regarding plots of land they were promised as a replacement.
This is a follow-up post on the ‘Quest for Land‘ story which is available as an iApp on iTunes and which reports on land issues in Cambodia since the year 2000 with texts by Robert Carmichael and over 700 photographs.
Six unions (N.I.F.TU.C., U.M.W., F.U.F., N.T.U.C. and TUF.W) managed to gather about 1000 garment workers with pink T-shirts with ‘We Need Decent Wages’ written on the back at Freedom Park. Other important unions did not show up for this demonstration which was asking for a monthly salary of 150$US.
After a garbled National Anthem, followed by 15 seconds of the 1-minute silence for the workers who were killed by the army beginning of this year, and speeches by the union leaders, part of the protesters went on an embassy tour (the U.S. and the E.U.) to deliver petitions, had a stopover at the memorial for Chea Vichea (for which the security barriers set up by the police to prevent the demonstrators from accessing Independence Monument and the Prime Minister’s residence were pushed back 20 meters) and finally disbanded at the National Assembly.
This is a follow-up post on my ebook ‘A Fine Thread’, available for your iPad and your Mac running iBooks. Available for 4.99$US on iTunes HERE.
The quiet Phnom Penh morning picked up a little bit of steam with about 150 factory workers from Y&W Garment hopping from one place to another to deliver petitions. It went from the Municipal Court to the National Assembly, followed by the Senate.
It seems the authorities have modified their strategy since a couple of weeks regarding petitioners: reduce police presence or at least proximity, hide the security guards, get three to five representatives to deliver their petition as fast as possible. The result is satisfied petitioners, a reduced protest time and less nuisance for the traffic. Who wouldn’t be happy with that?
This is a follow-up post on my ebook ‘A Fine Thread’, available for your iPad AND on your Mac running Mavericks OS with iBooks. Buy it on iTunes HERE.